Spyro is Icy Hot

Spyro: Season of Ice
Reviewed On
GameBoy Advance
Available For

That little purple dragon, Spyro comes winging his way onto the Game Boy Advance in his latest adventure: Spyro: Season of Ice. This is a brand new title and exclusive to our favourite handheld so I put the jump from console to palmtop to the test.

There’s trouble in downtown fairy land. All the fairies have been trapped in blocks of ice and it’s up to Spyro and company to sort it out. Unless our intrepid hero can use his fire breath to save the day, the evil Grendoc will be using 100 fairy wings to cure his migraine.

Now I have to fess up to the fact that I haven’t played any Spyro games before . I know, I know, but he’s just a bit cute and cuddly for me, so just give me a break. My next confession is that after playing the game for a bit, I kinda like Spyro and chums. I found the control system easy to learn and reasonably easy to deal with. Well, compared with some of the abominations I’ve had to deal with on GBA before, he was sweet relief.

First stop is Autumn Fairy Home where you get to grips with how things work with a little help from Spyro’s friends. Here you can access portals to the other areas of the game. Overall the game looks lovely, with crystal clear graphics, giving each level distinctive characteristics. For instance, when you hot foot it to the Lava Prairie, Spyro meets a harsh brown landscape dotted with cactus and pools of hot lava that singe his feet. In contrast the Mermaid Coast features sandy beaches and palm trees. With over 20 levels, there’s plenty to keep even those with the shortest attention span occupied.

Along the way there are gems to collect and rampaging baddies to blast away with Spyro’s fire breath, or knock them out of the way with his little charge. Each world has a certain number of fairies to rescue from the ice. The only problem is that they’re not always as obvious as I would like. There’s still a pesky fairy or two lurking somewhere I can’t find them"grrr.

There’s not much to the game, it’s just a case of run around and collect gems and fairies. There are however some sub-games for a little bit of variety. For a change of scene take control of Sparx the dragonfly and navigate the Ants Nest to save one of the fairies. Watch out though, this level has a big boss in the form of some kind of stag beetle or something"eeeuw! Spyro almost goes into shoot em’ up mode at the Speedway, a 3D level that has to be flown against the clock, collecting gems and avoiding ghoulish flying things.

As far as I could tell Spyro’s made a great transition onto Game Boy and the guys and gals at Universal Interactive have done well on their first attempt. I didn’t have any trouble judging the depth of field, which is something that has plagued other efforts on the small screen. Getting Spyro to walk in a straight line proved to be the biggest challenge of all, due to the fact that he moves along a diagonal grid. To walk in a straight line you have to get some sort of tacking motion going, sailing style. Once Spyro’s zig-zag walk is mastered though, you’ll be laughing out loud at his funny antics.

Fans of Spyro on console will be pleased to hear that his hover and glide move is still firmly in place. There is also a "look into the distance" feature, operated by holding down the L button, the only draw back being the fact that you don’t actually see very far. This is my one gripe – all the time I wasted wandering round and round the same world, looking for the bit I’d missed.

A simple map would have avoided this frustration. Spyro does have an Atlas for heavens sake, but it only tells you how many fairies and gems you’ve collected on each world and how many are left. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but well I want a map. I’m not asking for a full on "look, here are the fairies" map, but just a crude outline, so you can see areas you haven’t checked yet would be great.

The big picture is that I liked this game and I’m probably going to play it again on the bus home tonight, but there are a few little problems, as with most games. As far as I’m concerned though, Spyro rates up there with the top games to come out on Game Boy Advance so far. I’m gonna tuck it right under Tony Hawk in my top ten games for GBA, which is why Spyro Season of Ice gets a whopping 4 GiN gems from me.

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